Recalls are issued for dryers that present clear safety hazards, so continuing to use one is potentially dangerous. Dryers are often recalled if they present a fire or electrical shock risk.
All dryers draw a significant amount of electricity, and those that use electrical resistance for heating draw even more. While most are carefully shielded to prevent shocks and electrocution, manufacturing errors and unforeseen design problems can lead to dangerous shocks. Units that are recalled can sometimes be fixed, but there is generally no way to avoid dangerous shocks on units that have not been fixed.
Gas dryers burn fuel during operation, creating an open flame. Careful design typically keeps these units safe, but small problems can lead to burning, smoke and fires. Repairs can often limit the risk recalled units pose, but gas-fueled fires can spread quickly, so monitoring a recalled dryer may not be sufficient to prevent fires.
Newer dryers typically have a number of sensors, which can cause potential safety issues if they fail. A 2012 recall for LG- and Kenmore-branded dryers detailed an error that caused the dryer to continue running even after it was supposed to stop, causing dangerous levels of heat to build. Many users had clothing scorched, and units were recalled due to the risk of fire.